I had always wanted to travel more. I think at some points of my life I thought I would have someone to travel with, so I waited. And waited.
One weekend in June 2016, two of my best friends became engaged, and I saw wedding RSVPs on the horizon. I had waited long enough and it was time for me to book the ticket.
I was to spend 18 days traveling around Spain by myself. My first true vacation that was over two weeks long, and my first time truly traveling alone internationally.
I began spreading the news, “I am going to Spain in October!” and soon I recognized a pattern. The response I received over and over, “oh cool, you should also go to Portugal.” I was all, No, I said I am going to Spain.
Eventually I planned a trip where I would split my time between Spain and Portugal. That trip for me felt like a rebirth. I had found a pleasure that I have never known and it was solo travel. Lisbon was my final destination, and the feeling was immediate for me upon arrival. The tiled and painted buildings, the parks, the stone sidewalks, the lookouts, the river, the light, and I had a sinking feeling. Like a love feeling. I haven’t been in love in a long time, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was finding something I wanted to be a part of….and then I met a group of Portuguese women in a light-filled beautiful cooperative art studio in a little alcove on a dead-end street, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their world, too. I teared up on my walk home from those initial sweet conversations of how they felt about making artwork and traveling and encouragement of living in other countries for a time. I had never wanted to be somewhere more.
On October 21, four days after returning from this trip, I bought a one-way ticket from NYC to Lisbon.
On October 27, I told my employer of over a decade that I wouldn’t be returning in 2017.
In December I sold or donated everything I had collected in NYC for the past 13 years.
On January 1, 2017 I drove out of NY, with everything I owned in the back of my Jeep.